By Dr. Patricia Thompson
Today, organizations are focusing more than ever on the development of their talent. They realize that investing in their employees can have many benefits, including reduced turnover rates, higher employee satisfaction, and increased performance.
However, an employee cannot and should not always depend on their employer for their own development. Many organizations may lack the necessary resources, while others may not agree with your need. Employees should feel empowered to take control of their own pathway for advancement, finding opportunities to advance their skills and support their growth.
To stay up-to-date in my own profession, I try to block out time each week entirely devoted to learning – and I use this time in several ways. First, as a licensed psychologist, I have continuing education requirements. I also regularly partake in workshops to stay honed in my craft. In addition, I am an avid reader and enjoy listening to podcasts. I really love the convenience of podcasts because I can listen to them while I’m doing other things, like running errands or driving my son to and from school.
I also find I learn a lot when connecting with colleagues. Hearing what’s on their minds and brainstorming is a great way to expose myself to different perspectives. Finally, I learn from my clients. I’m fortunate enough to work with clients from a range of industries, so I can often pick up on themes within and across industries.
Six Ways to Grow
If you want to develop, you have to commit to making it a priority. You can do this by blocking out time devoted to personal growth efforts and by creating learning-related habits (e.g. reading the news while eating breakfast; or taking time at the end of the day to reflect on lessons learned). Once you’ve prioritized your development by blocking out time to support your ongoing growth, here are six practices you could try:
1.) Ask others for advice about areas in which you could grow (using the word “advice” as opposed to “feedback” tends to be associated with receiving guidance that is more helpful and actionable.
2.) Make a list of topics you would like to learn. For example, if you always feel out of your depth in finance discussions, perhaps you could learn more about that. Or, if you have always wanted to improve as a leader, you could target specific areas of leadership that might help you (e.g. delegation, influencing, building a high-performing team).
3.) Read books or listen to podcasts (if you can’t find any on your own, you could always ask for recommendations).
4.) Take a course. Whether it is online or in-person, it can be a useful way to expand your knowledge base.
5.) Work with a coach. At TLG, our coaching involves personality testing, a 360 survey, and targeted action planning to help you to work on your goals.
6.) Keep a leadership journal. As you learn new management approaches or gain insights into your own style, write them down, so that you can refer back to them in the future.
These are a few actionable steps that you can take to take control of your growth, and while any organization should offer opportunities for development, you hold the cards.